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Small Steps, Big Impact: Building a Sustainable Future

Investigating sustainability issues and positive changes made to achieve sustainable development goals

Content Warning: This article discusses topics of inequality and poverty that may be uncomfortable for some readers.

One World poster

Education, gender and inequality

Sadly, many countries have underdeveloped education systems and gender inequality in access to education. In Burkina Faso, only 1% of girls finish secondary school, and in Afghanistan girls are banned from going to school. There is also a shortage of education providers, with the UN reporting that 69 million teachers would be needed worldwide by 2030 to uphold promises of better education.

The expansion of education systems across the world is required to support and enhance learning, and is paramount to children's cognitive and emotional development. Quality education helps to lower poverty and provides children with a safe space to learn and thrive into adulthood. Sufficient investment must be made in areas like teacher training and curriculum development to ensure opportunities for learning. The Classroom of Hope gives children in underdeveloped countries access to high quality education and builds schools, as 121 million children do not have access to any form of education.

In the UK , there are Equal Opportunities policies for schools to ensure everyone is ''regarded as equal in worth, and importance irrespective of his/her creed, culture, class, race , gender, sexuality, and disability''. Also, the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for any education provider to ''discriminate between pupils on the grounds of disability, race, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief''.

Sustainable cities and communities

Around 55% of people worldwide live in cities, with this figure set to rise to 70-85% by 2050. Sustainable cities must have access to clean water, sanitation and waste disposal. Around 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water and 3.6 billion lack access to sanitation in their own homes. Thirst Relief International works to provide communities in need with clean water for drinking and bathing. Additionally, education is given on sanitation practices, how to maintain water and the importance of clean water. They have provided sustainable long-term solutions in countries like Tanzania and Uganda including rainwater harvesting and water filtration systems.

Additionally, easy access to facilities like work, education, retail, healthcare and leisure all essential to providing a sustainable community. Cities like Barcelona and Buenos Aires have implemented '15 minute cities' which states that daily necessities like work, education, and healthcare should be within a 15 minute walk or bike ride from anywhere in the city. The idea focuses on providing easy access to necessities for vulnerable communities and lowering road traffic which would help to improve air quality and the environment. 15 minute cities are a great long-term solution to helping the environment as well as increasing sustainability in cities and communities.

Small steps, big impact

It's clear that huge issues still persist worldwide which make it harder for SDGs to be achieved. However, positive changes are being made by charities, non-profit organisations and some governments which is an excellent start to moving towards reaching SDGs. Achieving these goals will provide better quality of life for billions of people, and help to protect our planet.

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